General Care and Maintenance
As a general rule of thumb, treat the instrument as you would a person. What is uncomfortable for you is also uncomfortable for it. This means that leaving the instrument in the car for any period of time, winter or summer, could be very fatal for the instrument. In the winter time due to the extreme cold, the instrument could easily crack. Additionally, in the summer time due to the heat, the instrument’s varnish could quickly melt, or the glue holding the instrument together could soften and lose its adhesive properties. Any drastic change in temperature from cold to hot, humid to dry, or vice-versa could lead to extensive damage.
Inside violin family instruments, there is a small wooden stick called the soundpost. The soundpost is designed to help transfer vibrations from the bridge and top to the back of the instrument. It also serves a secondary purpose of keeping the tension applied to the top of the instrument from the strings and bridge from crushing the top of the instrument. In the event of the soundpost falling, it is important that the strings be loosened immediately to prevent any damage to the top of the instrument.
Humidity also plays a role in an instrument’s well-being. When traveling to arid or dry climates, moisture should be given to the instrument by means of a damp-it or case humidifier to prevent the wood from drying out and cracking. Humidifying the instrument on a regular basis is only necessary if living in an area with low humidity levels.
Bridge: The bridge has to always be maintained perpendicular to body. When students try to tune their instruments, the bridge’s tendency will be to lean towards the scrollside. If teacher does not reset the bridge when needed, over time the bridge will warp as shown above. If your bridge , you have to bring your instrument to the shop and get the new bridge. If a player leave the bridge like above and play for a long time, sometimes bridge breaks then it will give a lot of damage to the front, so please do not leave your bridge like above picture.
Each time the instrument is played, the excess rosin left from the bow should be removed with a soft cleaning cloth. If rosin is not removed from the surface of the instrument, it caan become imbedded in the varnish and interfere with the vibrations in the top of the instrument, thus adversely affecting tone. It is also unattractive. Using most household cleaners will destroy your instruments varnish. Never allow alcohol to get near the varnish as it will destroy it. It is safest not to use alcohol at all. The only safe household cleaner to use is Simple Green which is safe on strings and varnish. Never use a furniture polish on your instrument. Furniture polishes usually contain lemon oil and/or silicone which can damage an instrument’s varnish.
NEVER put stickers on the body of the instrument. While it is fine to put stickers on the neck and fingerboard, stickers placed on the body of the violin can severely damage the violin’s varnish.
Periodically, strings will need to be replaced. Strings need replacing when they become false, begin to unwind, or break. Consult you teacher if you are not able to distinguish if a string is false or not. As a beginner, it is best to let the teacher tune the instrument; it is very easy to break strings when one is unknowledgeable of tuning and attempts to do so. When ordering replacement strings, it is helpful for the customer to know what brand of string is preferred along with which specific string is needed.
When tuning, it is important to check the bridge for any warping that has occurred due to the tension of the strings pulling it back and forth. If the bridge is warped, it should be replaced. Ideally the back of the bridge should form a 90˚ angle with the top of the instrument. If it does not, take it to your teacher or the violin shop and have it adjusted.
Always loosen the horsehair on the bow before putting away. And when getting a rehair, specify if you will be traveling for an extended period of time to a climate different from LA (which is dry). Our luthiers consider the humidity levels when adjusting bow hair length.